Sunday, January 22, 2006


The very thought of becoming a dad to a kid in a couple of months, brings to my mind the freshness of my childhood with a state of no-mind, as placid as a lake and unadulterated by thoughts. Every child is born as the very possibility of God, but in its journey, gets exploited and manipulated by the influence of ties, relationships, religion, knowledge, competition, objective and society forming a sheath of stains. The divine potentiality is nipped in the bud and is pulled into the orbit of interdependence, possessiveness and slavery. I am reminded of the following poem of Khalil Gibran from The Prophet.

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Happy Pongal

Wish you all a very happy and a prosperous pongal.
It's time to eat lots and lots of Karumbu(sugarcane) - it keeps your dentist away!

To know about the A to Z of Pongal Festival........

Monday, January 09, 2006

Kodaikanal - The Pristine Beauty

Though my blog is called Kodai Hills, so far I have not written anything on Kodai – the place that’s deeply rooted in my heart and soul, for it is a cradle of serenity with its pristine beauty and intoxicating aroma. The terrific tranquillity of Kodaikanal is simply awesome and infact, the serenity experienced at Kodaikanal is seldom found in other hill stations. Arguably, Kodaikanal is the most beautiful and the best-preserved hill station in the sub-continent.The summer retreat of Kodaikanal literally means gift of the forest and remains true even today.

Though there are many site in the web on Kodaikanal, I am unable to provide a reference as the information is in bits and pieces and their authenticity is questionable. Hence, I have decided to collect and present my own account, which I’m sure will be more authentic and informative.


Kodai Hills has a history as old as time. There are references to Kodaikanal in the Tamil Sangam literature of the early Christian era. In the pre-historic times, the primitive tribes of Paliyans and Pulyans resided near the Palani Hills and their descendants still live here in many of the hamlets. There is proof of settlement of prehistoric tribes at Kodaikanal by visible artifacts such as dolmens homes of great stone slabs. After the primitive tribes of Paliyans and Pulyans, in 14th century, villagers of Palani foot hills fled into Kodai hills, to escape from the oppressive rule in the plains and also from the invasion of Tippu Sultan.

Kodaikanal as a hill station was set-up by the Americans, though the British soon joined.The first European to visit Kodaikanal was Lt. B.S. Ward a surveyor in the year 1821. His Head Quarters was Vellagavi village. The irony is that, till now there’s no road to this village and to the many settlements in and around Vellagavi. The Hill bananas and the oranges from this village are exotic as they are cultivated without the user or any chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

During the Raj, the British / Americans could not bear the oppressive heat in Madurai and they faced sickness from epidemic diseases and consequential deaths. They wanted neat and healthy natural surroundings near Madurai to rest and improve their health. They were happy to find from the report of Lt. B.S. Ward about the hills with wonderful climate and easy accessibility from Madurai & Periyakulam. Many English and American missionary people visited Kodaikanal through various routes. Notable among them are J C Wroughton -Sub Collector, C R Cotton Judge and Dr. Weight. Dr.Fane built two houses in 1845 in the lake road. More houses were built by British Govt. The American Missionaries moved in and built a lot of dwellings in the southern side which is still there and now called 'Sunny Side' and 'Shelton' . In the year 1860, the first church was built jointly by the Bishop. American Madurai Mission built the union church in 1895.

From year 1860, there was all round improvement due to the visit of several dignitaries. Roman Catholics came, purchased a bungalow for Jesuit fathers, as rest house which is now called La Providence in upper shola road. Governors of Madras Sir Charles Travelyon and Lord Napier visited in the years 1860 and 1871. One major JM Partridge of the army introduced Eucalyptus and wattle trees in the year 1867. Bier Leverage, collector of Madurai lived in Pamhar house after his retirement. Only through his tireless efforts and initiative the artificial Kodaikanal lake, the foremost attraction of the tourists was formed. He arranged boat rides in the lake. He planned and executed several approach roads to Kodaikanal. He introduced several foreign trees and vegetables such as Pine Forms and Pears. In the year 1872 Lt. Coaker cut a path along the ridge of steep south eastern side which commends a magnificent view of the plains below. The path was named after him as Coaker's Walk and even today it offers a good walk with the panoramic view.


Kodaikanal lies in the Palani hills which is the eastern offshoot of the Western Ghats covering an area of 2400 Sq. Kms, and the town of Kodaikanal is centrally located. The Palani Hills is the main watershed for the Vaigai (South) and Amaravathi (Cauvery) (North) Basins. Geographically, Kodaikanal is located at a latitude of 10°7' N to 10°20' N and a longitude of 77°16' E to 77°45' E. Kodaikanal is situated at an altitude of about 2,133 m.


Roads to Kodai

There are two ways which we can reach Kodai. One is the road via Batlagundu on the Kodai Ghat Road (58 KMs) whose gradient is brilliantly engineered with just 2 hairpin bends, thanks to the British who did the origional formation of the road. This is a double road ( 7.5 m in width) and is always well maintained. It wouldn't be fair to Kodaikanal not to show the beauty of the vegetation here and this scene everyone must know who was coming to Kodai as you must pass this road to get and to go from there. Enjoy this road, 1.5 to 2 hours drive through the mountains to the town. I did this road several times with the bike, many times broke my record descending this road in even less than 50 minutes - the bike ride in this road is a an ecstasy.

The other road is the one that emanates from Palani, which is called as the Kodai-Palani Ghat Road (62 KMs) poorly aligned and designed with 21 hair-pin bends, thanks(?!) to the Highways Department who did the formation in 1970 and this road became operational in 1975, the year in which I was born :). Both the roads meet at a place called Perumal Malai which is just 12 KMs from Kodaikanal.

Kodaikanal is 120 KMs and takes 3 1/2 Hours from Madurai via the Kodai Ghat Road. There are frequent buses from Madurai and cab would cost you Rs. 1200 (Ambassador, Indica etc) to Rs 1500 (Quoalis, Sumo etc) depending on the vehicle.

From chennai or Bangalore, the distance is 520 KMs and I recommend you to take up any of the Chennai - Madurai train and descent at Kodai Road Jn. Kodiakanal is 70 KMs from here via the Kodai Ghat Road and a cab would cost you Rs 800 to Rs 1200. There are also direct buses (KSRTC, TNSEC,KPN, Parveen ) from Chennai and Bangalore that takes approximately 12 Hours.

From Coimbatore, Kodai is 175 KMs via the Kodai-Palani Ghat Road. There are direct buses from Coimbatore, Erode, Thiripur, Sathyamangalam, Gobi and frequest buses from Palani. From Palani, the cab would cost you Rs 800 to Rs1200.


Places to see

Rat Tail Falls View

As soon as you ascend the Kodai Ghat road, at the 12 th KM, there is a place called DUM DUM Rock that provides a panoramic view of the Rat Tail Falls and the Manjalaar Dam. There is a view tower from where you can have a real good view and is worth a few snaps.

Silver Cascade

Silver Cascade waterfall is located on the Kodai Ghat Road about 8-km before you reach Kodaikanal. This is an artificial cascade in which the overflow of Kodai Lake drops down from about 180 feet high. This waterfall can be delightful and impressive when the fall is in full spate.

Kodai Lake

Kodaikanal Lake is a 24-hectare lake bounded by a 5 km long road and the central point of Kodai. The tree-fringed lake greets everyone in the crisp early morning and is the cool heart of Kodaikanal. It is the legacy of the then Collector, Sir Vere Livinge, who formed it by damming the valley where three streams flowed. There is a Boat Club that provides the tourists with Rowing Boats and Pedalling boats and a public ferry. If you are visiting Kodai as a couple, I recommend you to take a ride in the Shikara boat offered by the Carlton Boat House. Boat Race and various competitions are held every year during the Summer Festival.

Coaker's Walk

About a kilometre from the lake is Coaker's Walk that runs along a steep, emerald green wooded slope , offering a breathtaking panorama of the plains, the Vaigai Dam and the distant hills. This hill-edge path way was identified by Er. Coaker of the Royal Engineers, in 1872 and hence is named after him. There is a rugged pristine beauty about these vistas, and the mist rising in veils from the valley below, makes this place a heavenly abode.

Upper Lake View

Upper Lake View is 3.2 kilometres from Coaker's Walk on the way to Green Valley View and provides a magnificent view of the Kodai Lake and is worth a couple of snaps. The first picture in this post is the Upper Lake View.

Green Valley View

Driving along the cool green darkness with the trees making a canopy overhead, one reaches Green Valley View, formerly known as the Suicide Point, portrays a stunning view of the valley dressed and undulating green velvet carpet of vegetation and also commands a beautiful view of the entire Vaigai Dam. Here too, the mist rises from the valley, imparting a solemn, out-of-this-world beauty to the scene. The prestigious Kodai Golf Club is located that a colonial legacy

Pillar Rocks

Thick woods line the road leading to the Pillar Rocks. These are three vertical pillars standing shoulder to shoulder measuring 112 m and a cross hoisted in one of the pillars. The ground drops sheer below them, creating a dramatic impact and affording a stupendous view of the valley below. Soon mists wrap up the pillars in mystery and one wonders whether they are real, or whether they were a figment of one's imagination. Then the sun melts the mists away and the rocks rise, solemn and majestic, dappled in sun and shadow: the effect is ethereal and awe-inspiring. There is a small garden with widest range of flowers

Devil’s Kitchen

Rediscovered by Kamal Hassan in shooting his film Guna, this place is now called as the Guna Cave. The cave is formed as a chamber between the two rocks of the Pillar Rocks and presents a view as if it is an abyss.

Moir Point

Yet another View point after the devil’s kitchen on the Kodai – Cochin road, present am amazing view of a steep valley, the hills and a few hamlets (Chinnoor, Periyoor) located in the mountains ro sometimes a herd of hibex grazing in the mountains. There is a forest check-post here to prohibit unauthorized entry beyond this point through the road leading to Munnar via Berijam Lake. Also, a road leading to the the Goshen road (This is a road that originated from Observatory Road and streatches to may hamlets like Poombarai, Kavunji, Mannavanoor, Kookaal etc.) meets at this point completing the famous 14 miles round.

Berijam Lake

Berijam lake - 21 kms from Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu is the most beautiful lake in all of South India. Originally discovered by the British & Spanish people, this place was a swamp 80-100 years ago. It has been converted to a lake with catchment areas around the lake. the lake itself is situated in a very high altitude...just a couple of hundred feet below kodai. The lake has very pure water and is the main source of water for a town called Periyakulam which is situated in the valley below Kodaikanal. Besides this, there are fantastic pine forests around the lake and theres something about pine trees and the fog and the lake and You have to see it to believe it !!

You only get permission to stay in Berijam till the evening, but if you are persuasive enough, you can get permission to stay overnight in Berijam ! There is a dormitory at Berijam, which can serve as a base for trekking. There is a canteen too with a friendly cook who'll cook anything for you, provided you have had the brains to shop for vegetables and stuff before getting here. Prakash, the cook will whip up anything you want to eat without any complaints. Iwould suggest you carry eggs and bread. This is the best breakfast you can have before you start on that wildest trek in your life !
You will realize the worth of the pain involved in getting the permission from the Forest Office, once you reach the Berijam Lake View - a spectacular view of a serene valley of shola forests with its diverse medicinal and aromatic plants and the lake resting like a pool of panacea in its bosom. There’s also a forest watch tower which provides an enthralling view of the same from an elevated point. Just 3 kilometers from this point is a shola called the Mathikettan Shola (people are sure to get mad on entering this shola because of the diverse variety of medicinal and aromatic plants it). This is preserved as on of the many endangered shola forests in Kodiakanal. There is also a possibility that your sight might catch up the glimpses of some fauna like Bisons, Nilgiri Lemurs, flying squirrels and deers.

Though boating is not allowed in this lake, it still remains as the most favoured picnic spot not only for the tourists but also for the locals. Don’t miss Berijam if you are visiting Kodai. From Berijam Lake, the road leads to Munnar (another paradise on earth) and is closed for the tourists. This road is another masterpiece left to us by the British. The road was operative till 1990 (the last time I took this road was in 1987 in a Jeep along with Gemini Ganesh and his family) but was ignored both by the Forest Department and Highways Department on a dispute over its ownership. Though the road is completey damaged till the Tamilnadu border, you can see that it is superbly maintained once you enter the Kerala border. Thanks to the Forest, Highways and the Tourism Depts of Kerala.

Goshen Road

To be continued............

Thursday, January 05, 2006


We (Shiva & Sujathaa) had a great time at Pondicherry on the eve of New Year. Visited Auroville, but visitors were not allowed inside the Matrimandir, as some restoration work is being done. Pondy has always been my favourite place for its culture, colonial houses, beaches and food. We stayed at Patricia's Guest House, which is a Colonial house and dined mostly at Redezvous roof top. The restaurant is run by Vincy and Jessica, who were operating a restaurant in Kodaikanal (1981-92) and Vincy was able to remember my dad and he was very friendly to us.

The Matrimandir wants to be the symbol of the Divine's answer to man's aspiration for perfection. Union with the Divine manifesting in a progressive human unity. The Matrimandir wants to be the symbol of the Universal Mother according to Sri Aurobindo's teaching.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Love - Agony and Ecstasy

There is no person on earth who has never been in love. But love can go beyond all limits and bounds and it can transcend consciousness and our very soul. Love has played a key role in my life elevating me to the peak and droping me into the abyss, experimenting with me in all the possible ways...............


I was deeply lonely with myself and was equally motivated to share that loneliness as well as to preserve it against ant trespass. I expressed my liking by denuding myself; by laying open my heart and inviting the person I liked to trespass into my inner solitude. Then came a stage when the desire to preserve that inner solitude became very stronger than the desire to share it. It was at such circumstance that I fell in love with Sona. It didn’t last long as she left me with loneliness to rest her soul. When she left, the heaviest blow was to me as I was in pain, misery and travail. Love itself is the cure for the pangs of pain caused by it. Though it yielded a joy that was vast as an ocean, the pangs it caused were deeper far. Having subjected me to this inconsolable grief that had wasted all my acquisitions, my guilty eyes had dried up with no more tears to shed. I conceived that, to suffer in sweetness and in peace without offering any resistance is to suffer in the right way. The dreams were my wonderful companion as they brought me sweet messages from her, though at sometimes horrible.

It was not so bad when I had loved Sona, for then in my adolescence, I had only wanted to give and it was the giving that has been refused. I loved her and didn’t expect her to return my love. I just had to keep trying and I kept proving it to her. Even after her death, whenever I thought of her, I felt myself enter her aura. It was torture to have this feel of her and yet have her no where in this world. Pain caused curious things to me and I realized that pain is the most profound of all human feelings. I tasted the pleasure of pain.


It was easier for me to fall in love because when the image of my first love broke down, it left an empty space in my mind with large charge of feeling, which was urgently looking for a replacement. Driven by the anxiety of this vacuum, I started romanticizing the image of the any lovable, reasonable and passionate woman who came along so that she can fill the niche quickly. I had no need for woman but I needed the feeling of being possessed by them. To me possession meant a longing for permanence, for an unchanging condition. Lack of love brought me infinite pain but it could do me no harm.

It was at this point that I found Sumithra and I realized that life would be impossible unless my new hunger is fed by someone like her. I had never known before how much of me had been dead without love. If I had known I would have loved passionately the first women I had come across. But it would’ve been very superficial and with Sumithra it was very deep and rich. Though she was also highly inaccessible I loved her more than I did myself. I used to wonder if it was for us that kambar – the Tamil poet wrote these lines in Sundara Ghandam,

Blow, wind to where my loved one is,
Touch her, and come and touch me soon;
I’ll feel her gentle touch through you,
And meet her beauty in the moon.
These things are much for one who loves-
A man can live by them alone-
That she and I breath the same air,
And the earth we tread is one.


We didn't even meet each other and our love had more frustration than fulfillment. Ultimately we had to break considering the impracticality of our happening. Just because it didn't happen, do I have to treat her as a stranger? She's married and settled in ONT, Canada. We are still good friends with ocassional mail exchanges.

Sandy Thomas

The basic cause which made me seek the love of another person was because I was extremely lonely again. I felt this loneliness to be painful and yearned to escape, from it. The sudden release and explosive pouring out of myself in to someone whom I have not even seen was experience with my love with Sandy Thomas. And it was the most beautiful kind of relationship I ever had with a woman. To this day she is a mystery as she brilliantly kept her identify a mystery. She is the most mysterious , indecipherable, inscrutable, most profound, most precious and, at the same time, the most accursed girl I’ ve known and I’m in total darkness about her.

She was deprived of the childhood needs which spoilt her formative years and has driven her to a state of “give-up neurosis”. As for her portrait could depict she was exceedingly beautiful but her beauty was thing of might and dread that shook my life like a tempest. As a highly- organized loving-being I was able to objectify my passions enabling myself to suffer and enjoy most keenly. I was intoxicated by her love. I got transfigured into her and every through was merged in that one ocean of love for her. She was the only perfect flower in the wilderness of my life and the only fixed star in mists of my wandering and my only hope in my despair. I couldn’t predict the weight for measure of my love I had for her. She was my wish and my thought, I breathed her with every draught, I kissed her with every fragrance. Although I was far from her physically, we had one single light. No one knew who was the lover and who the beloved, and we never made any effort to meet which made the relationship a great mystery.

Her wantedness to break her ego boundaries was satisfied by my correspondence with her, and I thought our love will be a permanently enlarging experience. But, our relationship had to collapse due to some misunderstanding. It was my mistake - That's what she said. That was the time for wiser of the two to put and end to the relationship because the one who wishes to prolong it in the hope that it may be restored to its initial intensity, is the one who is going to be hurt and she is wise women. Our occasional mails and her ocassional calls keep us as friends till today.


Pavithra, a girl of low melting who poured into my long prepared mould and she was the only one with whom I progressed up to some kisses. I had a peculiar sense of freedom as her presence always lifted from me a pressure I could not define. Her love encouraged freedom of myself and we shared positive and negative reactions to warm the cold feelings. She was bold, free, ambitious, self-reliant woman and intellect. It was a different kind of love - sexual love, a genetically determined instinctual component of mating behaviour which I confess, is a selfish emotion and I know that in this society any selfish emotion and my intense longing for association, the strong desire on the part of two to become one. As for as I am concerned, it was apparent that love is initially stirred by physical attraction and is born in the eye. It is in the physical that the mental and emotional relationship is built. I wanted to love her ever and ever. I deliberately shut my eyes to the two enemies. Time and change. When I turned indifferent to her love because of the crisis I got into, she was more realistic as if she knew that all things pass.

I never cared about what she had done or what she is or where she is from as long as she loved me. That is the nature of sexual love, and I was blind to her nature. Even my best friends were against my association with her as they thought in term of the usual ethics, tradition and values as if they are the greatest virtue every person should posses. I believed that preaching of chastity is an incitement to public anti-nature. Any kind of scorn for sexual life, any contamination of it with the concept of “uncleanliness”, is the real sin against holy spirit of life. What is the cause of chastity? The presence of the so-called unchaste, impure, street-walking and whoring women is the cause of chastity. I believe the so-called decent women differ only in the aspect that they are less honest than the whores. Woman also has the equal right to expect her man to be equally chaste as she is and so it is better not to have room for moral judgments in life. Life is amoral.

According to me there is nothing immoral or obscence; there are only poorly conceived and poorly executed ones.Ordinarily we think in terms of duality. But there’s no duality in life. There is neither good nor evil in this world, but only being and doing. Zola was right in saying that morality is like a religion; a soporific to close people’s eyes to the tawdriness of their life. It was amusingly surprising to note that in a land of phallus-yoni worshippers people are crazy enough to laud the virtues of virginal chastity. I had to sacrifice her for the sake of society and I’m ashamed of the second-rated life I had lead that could not even spare me of my love. On introspection, I realized that any love couldn’t last longer because of the fact that I expected instant gratification from it but I was not willing to wait for the ultimate fulfillment.


Every love affair must reach a point where it will attain marriages, and be changed, or decline, or wither. When ever I was in an excited state I was more prone to fall in love than when I was calm and placid. There was always a sudden discontinuous jump from one love to the next and between these two loves, there was a gap, a void, something like life – lifelessness – life. If it was the will of existence to molest me with beauty of passion, how can I help trying to impose any boundary? No. It did not lie in my power to love or hate, for the will is always over–ruled by fate. Now that, I have gained significant experience not only in love, but also in life. I almost had die in order to be born again - I got resurrected. However, a life time without love is of no account as love is the water of life. Drink it down with heart and soil as it is the highest form of expression of the phenomenon of God. After a loveless life of 2 years, I met Sujathaa and we were instaltly in love and didn't take much of a time to realize that all these years of love was just a projection of a longingness to find each other. After 2 more years of being in love, we consolidated it by marriage.

Monday, January 02, 2006

In Search........

It was during my recent visit on the eve of New Year to the Aurobindo Ashram that, I got nostalgic about the days when I was in search of the ultimate - I need to correct myself here - The Ultimate. This is how one of the many guru's I had met corrected me - to always begin the ultimate with the upper case, as it is considered to be a proper noun! Shall I call it(?) a supreme noun? Whatever! Let's make it a rule to spell the following correctly with upper case - The Ultimate, The Omnipresent, The Omnipotent, The Omniscient, The Brahman and so on.

As soon as I reached home, I started searching my mails that are atleast 5 years old, as that was the period when I was involed in the search - a search from nowhere to nowhere to find nothing. Here are the excerpts from those good old mails, just to share my experiences on the pursuit for something I was not really prepared, destined and divinely called for. This is also an effort to satiate my longings and apetite for the past that lives only in my dreams.

Hinduism being my family religion, offered more freedom in terms of the religious practices because of which, I participated in religion only during the vacations. My school being a military based one, thankfully didn't profess any sought of religion. There was freedom, atleast in religious practice. Freedom is good, for it gives complete control of ourselves and absolute authority over our thoughts that make us innovative to identify and discover innumerable choices. This presence of choice reassures our freedom, but leaves us with perpetual conflicts with ourselves, leaving us more confused than ever. Now, shall I say that Freedom is bad, because it leads to conflicting mind and confused state? In the absence of Freedom, we don’t have options to choose from and hence, there is no conflict and confusion. I had the whole range of practices like Monoism (Advaita), Dualism (Dvaita), Tantra and any other religon under the sun to choose from. The first choice was dualism as I was used to it.

Taking-up the dualistic point (God being the creator and all else being the created) was not fulfilling as God seemed potential when there's no creativity and kinetic when God was creating, which means God is mutable. Anything mutable is a compund and can undergo destruction and hence, this idea seemed absurd to me. Then I took the stance of a monoist and hence, from being external I turned internal turning my prayers to concentration and meditation. Now, I was convinced that God is within and it was just to relate God to this world that he/she has been objectified to various forms.

Even my limited practice of meditation revealed that the intensification of concentration upon myself was the understanding of the power within - the Divine within and this resulted in intense self-love. This self-love frequently falsified my rationality and lead to thousand kind of injustices, which, though often small, were nevertheless dangerous. Most of my misery and suffereing could be attributed to the irrationality that resulted out of my narcissistice orientation, as the only reality that existed was within me, failing to see an objective view of the world outside. I was torn between the extremities of my thoughts and practices.

The crisis of my perception was basically due to partial experience and fragmentary knowledge of my search through various methods and practices including concentration, meditation, pilgrimage, discussion, literature that resulted in this state of psychic conditioning. Finally, the idea that God exists seemed to be a simple joke. Frederick Nietzsche was wrong in saying that God is dead, as there never existed a God to die. The God cannot exist as whatever that exists will cease to exist. May be, God is not to be seen as a person as it is the very presence. God is not to be seen externally, in the temples, chruches, mosques as it is always within you. Your body is the greatest temple of God and your soul is the God. God cannot understand our shoutings and lamentations in the name of prayers, as the language of prayer is silence.With this understanding, I decide to stop further search in the name of God.